The Boy Must Live

Season 5, Episode 11
Aired: January 11th, 2013
Written By: Graham Roland
Directed By: Paul Holahan

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Resources: IMDb | Wikipedia | Transcript
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The Boy Must Live

The Glyphs

This episode's glyphs spell: G-R-A-C-E

Glyph symbol GGlyph symbol RGlyph symbol AGlyph symbol CGlyph symbol E
Glyph symbol G
Glyph symbol R
Glyph symbol A
Glyph symbol C
Glyph symbol E

The Observer

Observers are featured in this episode.


Timestamp: 26:31

Episode Clues

Previous Episode Clue

A billboard in 'Anomaly XB-6783746' says "Smriti Isolation Tanks", foreshadowing Walter's use of the iconic sensory deprivation tank in 'The Boy Must Live'. The word "Smriti" is Sanskrit for "that which is remembered," and Walter went into the tank to help him extract a memory buried in his subconscious.

Previous episode clue

Timestamp: 27:01

Next Episode Clue

Windmark's interest in the Statue of Liberty snow globe in 'The Boy Must Live' foreshadows the return to Liberty Island in 'Liberty'.

Next episode clue

Timestamp: 28:11

Items of Interest

  • Windmark visited his boss, The Commander, in 2609. (Image 1)
  • September chose the name Donald from Donald O'Connor, one of the stars of Singin' in the Rain, the first movie he watched with Walter.
  • An Observer involuntarily taps his foot to music, which he does not understand.
  • Walter has to sacrifice himself for the plan to work, a choice he made himself.
  • Michael stepped off the monorail, allowing himself to get caught by the Loyalists and be taken to the Observers.
Item of interest: The Commander
Image 1: The Commander
Timestamp: 20:08

Glyph Sightings

  • Butterflies can be seen on a box in September's apartment.
Timestamp: 15:41

Walter's Food

Walter ate a grape Red Vine.
Connection: Grape Red Vine
Grape Red Vine
Timestamp: 05:09

Notable Quotes

SEPTEMBER: "Before the invasion I was apprehended for my continued interference in the timeline, and my interaction with all of you. As punishment they removed my device. Now I'm no longer able to move through time or do the things that I was able to do. They experimented on me. They called it 'biological reversion.' Now I'm no different from you. Truthfully, it wasn't much of a punishment; I've always held this era in the highest regard."

WALTER: "What is he?"
SEPTEMBER: "He was born hundreds of years from now. Like all of our kind, he was created in a lab using the genetic material of a designated donor. It was a process that began generations earlier with a discovery on February 20, 2167, by a scientist in Oslo, Norway who was trying to find ways to increase human intelligence. He realized that if he could rewire the portion of the human brain that induces jealousy he could increase cognitive function. Sacrificing emotion for intelligence. This discovery was the catalyst for the creation of the beings that you called Observers. His work carried on, and more and more emotions were seen as roadblocks to higher intelligence. Things like anger, greed, aggression. They were abandoned in the pursuit of intellect. Eventually humanity became so intelligent and efficient they lost perspective of the value of these emotions, not only the negative ones but the positive as well. And soon empathy, compassion, and love became messy distractions, and they, too, were machined out. Without romantic love they developed new reproductive technologies. Early in the boy's maturation the scientists in charge of reproduction realized that his brain had developed differently from the other offspring. To them, he was an anomaly. A defect. I had observed in your time how fathers care for their sons and protected them. It stirred something in me that I could not ignore. I took the boy away and hid him in the past where he would be safe."
WALTER: "He's your son?"
SEPTEMBER: (Nods 'yes')

THE COMMANDER: "We chose this time in history for a reason: a 99.9999% probability that we will succeed."
CAPTAIN WINDMARK: "The boy had a 0.0001% chance of surviving, yet he did."
THE COMMANDER: "Is there something wrong with you?"
WINDMARK: "I am experiencing something that I do not understand. The idea of ending their existence consumes me."

PETER: "So how does he fit into the plan?"
SEPTEMBER: "They were right about him, he's an anomaly. He's not less than them, he's more. At first, I thought his abilities were just empathic, but they developed into something greater. I now know that his intellect functions on a level that neither you nor we are capable of understanding. But what's more important: he has the emotions, the compassion, the empathy."
WALTER: "A hybrid."
SEPTEMBER: "Yes. That moment that I told you about, when scientists first decided to sacrifice human emotion to increase intelligence, that was the turning point in human evolution."
OLIVIA: "20th of February, 2167."
SEPTEMBER: "If we can send the boy into the future, to that moment, he can demonstrate to those scientists a different kind of intelligence, an enlightenment that goes beyond knowledge or cognition to something greater. And when they see what he is, when they study him, they will realize all that he is: living proof that they don't have to sacrifice emotion for intelligence. And they will never go down that path."
PETER: "And the Observers will never exist. They will never invade."
WALTER: "That was the plan we were working on before I ambered us."
SEPTEMBER: "I always knew the boy was important but when I realized why, what he was supposed to do, my device had been removed. I'd lost the ability to move through time. So I came to you. That was the plan. We were going to send the boy forward into time."

Connection Chart

A visualization of all the ways this episode connects to other episodes. Scroll down to see the actual connections.

Episode Connections

S1E01 - Pilot

  • Walter entered the sensory deprivation tank in 'The Boy Must Live' just as Olivia did in 'Pilot'.
  • In 'The Boy Must Live' Walter has memories of the first words he said to Peter in 'Pilot', "I thought you'd be fatter."

S1E02 - The Same Old Story

  • In 'The Boy Must Live' we learn that Observers are grown in a lab very quickly, on the order of minutes/hours, similar to the rapid aging in 'The Same Old Story'.

S1E04 - The Arrival

  • September loads his food with heat (pepper, jalapenos, hot sauce) in 'The Arrival' because his emotions are dulled, as he explained in 'The Boy Must Live'.
  • In 'The Boy Must Live', September lived next to the East River in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Northwest Brooklyn in 2036. Near the East River in Williamsburg is where the first Beacon bored to the surface in 'The Arrival', the first Observer-centric episode.
Connection: Spicy sandwich
Spicy sandwich
S1E04 - The Arrival
Timestamp: 02:12

S1E08 - The Equation

  • September's security system flashed the 'green-green-green-red' pattern from 'The Equation' before exploding in 'The Boy Must Live'.
Connection: Green-green-green-red
S5E11 - The Boy Must Live
Timestamp: 29:55

S1E15 - Inner Child

  • In 'The Boy Must Live' September said he took the boy from the future and hid him in the past, where he was found in 'Inner Child'.
  • September has an interest in the Child at the end of 'Inner Child'. This is because the Child was made from September's genetic code, essentially making him September's son, as revealed in 'The Boy Must Live'.

S2E17 - White Tulip

  • September took Walter's white tulip note from 'White Tulip' in the original timeline and kept it. Walter took it and did something with it in 'The Boy Must Live'.

S2E18 - The Man from the Other Side

  • WALTER in 'The Boy Must Live': "And I remember the night I was up late, making a peanut butter sandwich, and you slipped and called me 'Dad'."
      In 'The Boy Must Live' Walter told Peter that he remembered the first time Peter called him "Dad" in 'The Man from the Other Side'.

S3E10 - The Firefly

  • SEPTEMBER in 'The Firefly': "It must be very difficult."
    PETER: "What?"
    SEPTEMBER: "Being a father."

      In 'The Boy Must Live' the Observer revealed that Michael was his son and that his observations of Walter and Peter affected his feelings about his own son.

S3E20 - 6:02 AM EST

  • WALTER in 'The Boy Must Live': "I can't explain it, but when the boy touched me, he showed me more than just images. It was freeing, Peter. All at once, I understood that everything I've ever known - or thought I knew, as a great man - could fit into a thimble. And that's not all he gave me. I remember things, things I haven't experienced. I think, from the other timeline, before you were erased, before the timeline was reset. I remember when you came to me at Saint Claire's. My first words: 'I thought you'd be fatter'. And I remember the night I was up late, making a peanut butter sandwich, and you slipped and called me 'Dad'. The feeling of joy that gave me... and the terror, before you stepped into the Machine."
      In 'The Boy Must Live' Walter told Peter about memories he regained from the original timeline, including memories of Peter stepping into The Machine from '6:02 AM EST'.

S4E14 - The End of All Things

  • DECEMBER in 'The End of All Things': "September has continually intervened on behalf of this boy despite all warnings. He has been given every chance."
    MARCH: "How shall we proceed?"
    DECEMBER: "We wait. He will surface again. And when he does, he will have to face the consequences."

      In 'The Boy Must Live' September revealed that he was experimented on by other Observers and was biologically reverted to a purely human state as punishment for his interventions.

S5E09 - Black Blotter

  • The password to retrieve Michael in 'Black Blotter', "Black Umbrella", came from the poster for Singin' in the Rain, from which September chose his new name (Donald O'Connor) in 'The Boy Must Live'.
Connection: Black umbrella
Black umbrella
S5E11 - The Boy Must Live
Timestamp: 15:14

Spoilers for future episodes below!

S5E13 - An Enemy of Fate

  • Michael stepped off the monorail in 'The Boy Must Live' so Olivia would have to get dosed with Cortexiphan to save him by universe-hopping. That remaining Cortexiphan is what allowed her to defeat Windmark in 'An Enemy of Fate'.
  • Michael played the music box from 'The Boy Must Live' for September after September got shot in 'An Enemy of Fate'.
Connection: Music box
Music box
S5E11 - The Boy Must Live
Timestamp: 16:21
Connection: Music box
Music box
S5E13 - An Enemy of Fate
Timestamp: 39:58